As eternal spirit souls in this temporary material world,
A lecture in Toronto in June 1976
"Those who are not faithful in this devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of enemies. Therefore they return to the path of birth and death in this material world." (Bhagavad-gita 9.3)
Here Lord Krsna is instructing us that there are two paths we can follow: One takes us back home, back to Godhead, and the other forces us to remain in this material world, which is full of miseries, especially birth, old age, disease, and death. These are the two paths open to us.
Actually, we living entities are not subjected to birth, old age, disease, and death. We are eternal, part and parcel of Krsna. Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we are part and parcel of Him, just as a father may have many children, and every child is part and parcel of the father. So Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is the supreme father, and we living entities are all His children, part and parcel of God. Qualitatively we are one with Krsna, just as a small particle of gold is still gold. It is not qualitatively different from a big lump of gold.
Still, although we are small particles of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, somehow we have fallen into this material world. We are like sparks that are no longer in the fire. When a small spark is dancing within the fire, it is brilliant—it is also fire. And if it falls on your clothes, it will immediately begin to burn, or the spark will make a black spot. I have had this experience. Although the spark is small it is still fire, and therefore it burns. Similarly, we are small particles of spirit, part and parcel of God, and therefore we possess His qualities in minute quantity.
Now, when a spark falls out of a fire, there may be three conditions: The spark may fall on the ground, it may fall on the water, or it may fall on some dry grass. If the spark falls on dry grass, the spark may start another fire. If it falls on the ground, the spark may continue as fire for some time and then become extinguished. And if the spark falls on water, it is finished.
Similarly, the material world is composed of three modes of nature—; goodness, passion, and ignorance. If we acquire the quality of goodness, there is a chance of knowledge and enlightenment—the "fire" can again be generated. And if we acquire the mode of passion, our spiritual enlightenment is likely to soon be extinguished. But if we fall down in the water—the mode of ignorance—our consciousness is finished.
In our fallen condition in this material world, the modes of passion and ignorance are very prominent. The symptoms of these modes are unlimited desires and greediness. And the symptom of the mode of goodness is enlightenment. If we cultivate brahminical qualifications, we will rise to the platform of the mode of goodness. Krsna describes the brahminical qualifications in the Bhagavad-gita [18.42]:
samo damas tapah saucam
If we cultivate this kind of life—to be truthful, peaceful, and tolerant, to be men of wisdom, knowledge, and faith in God and the scriptures—then we are brahmanas. To be a brahmana means that one has a chance of understanding Brahman (brahma janatiti brahmanah). Human life is meant for inquiring about Brahman. This is declared in the first aphorism of the Vedanta-sutra: athato brahma-jijnasa.
So, the gist of the whole Vedic literature is given in the Bhagavad-gita, which is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Therefore the Bhagavad-gita is a very important book. In other scriptures, sometimes the representative or servant of God is speaking. They are also teaching the science of God, but according to time and circumstances they may modify God's teachings. But here in the Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is Himself speaking.
For the Indians who are present here, it is a great fortune that you have taken your birth in the country where Krsna appeared. Such a birth is not an ordinary thing. Why? Because to take birth in India means to automatically be advanced in spiritual knowledge. Therefore, even though India is in such a fallen condition, if you go to any village the people will very easily understand Krsna consciousness. By birthright they have the knowledge.
In Vrndavana, when we walk on the street the cart drivers, the milkmen carrying milk—they all immediately offer respects: "Ah, Swamiji." The other day we were taking our morning walk and we entered a field. The cultivators came to receive us: "Swamiji, it is our great fortune that you have come to our field." But in this country, if I would have entered a field perhaps the owner would have brought a charge of trespassing or even shot me. So that is the difference between Indians and others: by birthright the Indian people are Krsna conscious.
My request to you Indians here in a foreign country is, Please don't forget your heritage. That is my request. Remain an Indian, with Indian culture. Here is the temple of Krsna, and we are distributing Krsna culture all over the world. Don't miss this opportunity; take advantage of it.
The duty of every Indian is to help the mission of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Especially to the Indians He said,
bharata bhumite haila
"The duty of one who has taken birth in India is to first of all make his own life successful and then to perform welfare activities for all others."
The idea is that since India is enriched with Vedic knowledge, those who are bom in India should take advantage of this facility and then spread that knowledge. Especially those who are in the higher ranks should do this—the brahmanas [intellectuals], ksatriyas [adminstrators], and vaisyas [businessmen]. Learn the art of Krsna consciousness, make your life perfect, and then distribute the knowledge all over the world. This is your duty, and this is the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita five thousand years ago, but it was not broadly preached. It was spoken on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, so Arjuna knew it, and some of his friends. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is also Lord Krsna, took the role of a devotee of Krsna and distributed Krsna consciousness freely. He wanted every Indian to seriously take up Krsna consciousness, make his life perfect, and then distribute the knowledge. This is every Indian's duty.
Now, in this ninth chapter of Bhagavad-gita Krsna is speaking plainly about bhakti, devotional service to the Supreme Lord. He calls this knowledge raja-guhyam, "most confidential." In the previous verse He said, raja-vidya raja-guhyam: "Krsna consciousness is the king of education, and it is very confidential." Therefore Krsna consciousness cannot be understood by an ordinary man. Suppose you go to a bank. A few persons in the bank—the manager or the cashier or the accountant—may know everything confidential about the bank's dealings. But the clerks and customers don't know. Similarly, the knowledge Krsna speaks in Bhagavad-gita is very confidential (guhyam guhyatamam). In other words, it is very, very important and not easily understood by the common man.
Therefore, Krsna says, "I am personally speaking this confidential knowledge to enlighten people like you, Arjuna, not for the people in general." Arjuna was not an ordinary person. He was born in a royal family, and he was so exalted that he could speak with Krsna face to face. So this confidential knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita is not for ordinary persons.
But still, as Krsna says, the process of Krsna consciousness is susukham kartum avyayam: It is so easy to perform that everyone can do it. These American and Canadian boys—what are they doing here in this temple? Chanting Hare Krsna, dancing, and eating prasadam [food offered to Krsna]. What is the difficulty? Chant Hare Krsna in ecstasy, dance nicely, and when you become hungry and tired, take nice prasadam. Simply by this process you will become advanced in Krsna consciousness, and then you will be able to understand Bhagavad-gita. What is the difficulty?
There is no need of discussing philosophy or becoming a mystic magician or juggler or bluffer or cheater. No. Simply accept this simple process. Come here and chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and automatically you'll become ecstatic, because this Hare Krsna maha-mantra is not an ordinary sound. It is a spiritual sound. As Narottama dasa Thakura has sung, golokera prema-dhana harinama sankirtana. Just as we receive sound from distant places via radio, we receive the chanting of Hare Krsna from the spiritual world. This sound is not produced in this material world; it is brought from the spiritual world.
In the spiritual world there are eternally liberated devotees who are ecstatically enjoying so much—simply by chanting Hare Krsna and dancing. And the scriptures describe that in the spiritual world there is no sex. Just imagine! Here in this material world, sex is considered the highest pleasure. But in the spiritual world, although men and women are very beautiful, there is no sex because everyone is enjoying the higher pleasure of Krsna consciousness.
Also, in the spiritual world no one ever becomes old, because in that place there is no birth, old age, disease, or death. Old age is due to the material body. Otherwise, the spirit soul is everlastingly young. Actually, we are hampered on account of the material bodily encagement.
So, as I have already explained, if you like you can become free from the bondage of this material body, or if you like you can continue your material way of life, changing from one material body to another, perpetually. In the present verse Krsna describes this process as mrtyu-samsara-vartmani, "the path of repeated death in the material world." Why? Because if you are encaged in a material body—whether a cat's body or a dog's body or a human being's body or a demigod's body or even Brahma's body—you have to die. There is no escape. Krsna further says, aprapya mam, "You don't get Me." So you have two alternatives: either you get Krsna and go back home, back to Godhead, or you remain in this material world and repeatedly get a body and die again, struggling through the cycle of birth, old age, disease, and death.
Now, because Krsna is our supreme father, or supreme friend, He is helping us by speaking the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita. So we should be very eager to accept His instructions. If we do not, then, Krsna says, mrtyu-samsara-vartmani: We will "travel on the path of repeated birth and death in this material world."
That is the result if one is not interested in performing his occupational duty, or dharma. What is this dharma? At the end of the Bhagavad-gita Krsna clearly says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Just give up all other duties and surrender unto Me." This is real dharma. And anything except this is bogus dharma, cheating. In another place in the Bhagavad-gita [4.8] Krsna says, dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge:
"To reestablish the real religious system, I appear age after age." Krsna comes here, or He sends His representative—his son or devotee or servant. In this way Krsna tries to enlighten the whole human society.
So, you should take advantage of Krsna's instructions. If you don't, if you have no faith in them, no interest, then you will suffer. This human form of life is a chance to accept the system of religion offered by God Himself. And it is our duty to accept it. But if one is not interested, then the result, says Krsna, is that "One cannot get Me." And if we don't get Krsna, what is the wrong there? It is very, very wrong. As Krsna says, nivartante mrtyu-samsara-vartmani: "One remains in the cycle of birth and death."
That cycle is not very pleasing. We are working so hard to make nice roads, nice cars, nice skyscrapers, and other nice facilities. Why? To become happy. But when we are called by death, we will cry, "Oh, I am attempting to build this, and now I am dying!" This is very painful.
That is the way of nature. You may try to become happy in this material world, but nature will kick you out. She will not allow you to stay here. Krsna describes this world as duhkhalayam asasvatam: temporary and full of miseries. It is very troublesome to get money and make nice material arrangements. And after you've undergone severe hardship and gotten some money and built big, big buildings or purchased a car, you have to work so hard just to keep it all intact. That is also very difficult.
And ultimately there is no guarantee that you will be able to enjoy your material facilities. Today you may be the proprietor of a big house and a big motorcar, but after death you may have to accept the body of a cockroach in the house or the car. Your future situation is not in your hands; it is determined by the laws of nature. If you have worked in such a way that you have no right to possess a car anymore, and if you have great attachment for your car when you are dying, then you may have to accept the body of a cockroach in the same car. No one knows about these laws of nature. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [3.27],
"The rascals do not know how material nature works. Although they are under the control of nature, they think, 'I am independent; I am doing everything.'"
So, after death we have to accept another body. Just as we have given up our childhood body and accepted a boyhood body, and given up our boyhood body and accepted an adult body, we will have to accept another body at the time of death. And that body will be created by nature according to our karma. Then we begin another chapter. Whether you become a demigod or a dog or a cockroach or a human being, from the date of your next birth you will begin another chapter. Again the miseries of growing up, changing bodies, adjusting things according to the circumstances. This is mrtyu-samsara-vartmani, the cycle of repeated birth and death.
If you want to avoid this botheration, listen to what Krsna says. Then your life will be successful. But if you don't accept Krsna's words, which are very plainly spoken in Bhagavad-gita, then you have to remain in this mrtyu-samsara-vartmani. This is the plain truth. There is no doubt about it. You may be very proud of your strong body or your social or political position, but after death your fate is not under your control. It is under the control of the material nature. So don't be falsely proud. Don't be fooled by false egotism into thinking, "I am free. I can do whatever I like." Then you'll suffer and remain on the path of repeated birth and death.
There are 8,400,000 species. We have obtained this human form only after having gone through many, many births in the evolutionary process. Now is the time to understand our position. What is that position? That we are eternally part and parcel of God. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [15.7],
"The living entities are eternally part and parcel of Me. But the foolish rascals are creating mental concoctions and speculations to become happy in this material world."
According to one's mentality, one gets a certain type of body, which is composed of senses. The pig has a tongue and we also have a tongue, but the pig likes to taste stool with his tongue, while we don't. Because our bodies are different, our tongues prefer to enjoy different tastes.
During our present life we create a certain type of mentality. If we live like dogs or hogs, that mentality will give us the senses and body of a dog or hog in our next life, and we will acquire a dog's or hog's sense of taste. Similarly, we can acquire a demigod's sense of taste. But the principle of tasting remains the same.
So, in this way things are going on, and Krsna describes them very widely and expressively in the Bhagavad-gita. Every human being is expected to receive this knowledge directly from Krsna. Don't interpret it according to your whims. Take it as it is and be benefited.
This Krsna consciousness movement is trying to enlighten people in the principles of Bhagavad-gita. These principles are universal; there is no restriction. It is not that if you are not a brahmana or an Indian or a Sanskrit scholar, you cannot take up Krsna consciousness. No. Krsna says, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah: "Never mind whether one is an Indian or a brahmana or this or that. Even if one is born in the lowest social position, if he surrenders to Me he can achieve perfection." So Krsna consciousness is universal, and it is easy and happy to perform. Take advantage of it and be happy. That is my request.
Hare Krsna. Thank you very much.
Awakening Our Spiritual Taste
by Drutakarma dasa
When your taste buds lose their edge after savoring several mouthfuls of the mild main course of a vegetarian feast, take a spoonful of chutney. Immediately your tired tongue will awaken to a tingle of spices and irresistible fruit-flavored sweetness. Now you can return to the main course with your digestion and your palate stimulated. But when the main course itself is hot and spicy, your tongue craves a different kind of relief—the kind that can only be provided by a raita: crisp fresh vegetables in a cooling, soothing yogurt sauce.
Our tongues seem to crave an endless variety of delightful tastes. Actually, all of our senses hunger after their various objects. The eye delights in seeing beautiful forms and colors, the skin in feeling the pleasures of touching and caressing, the nose in smelling delectable aromas and perfumes, and the ears in hearing music and sweet voices. Yet although the senses hunger after pleasure, they are inevitably subjected to the pain and suffering of disease, old age, and death.
The Vedas tell us that the pleasures of the material senses are temporary because the material senses themselves are temporary. The Vedas also inform us that the conscious self who experiences the pains and pleasures of the material senses is an indestructible entity distinct from the temporary body. The self's natural position is to live an eternal life of full knowledge and pleasure in association with the Supreme Self, Krsna. Reestablishing the soul in its connection with Krsna is accomplished by the process of bhakti-yoga, the yoga of devotion.
The basic principle of bhakti-yoga is to transfer the activities of the senses from material sense objects to spiritual sense objects. For example, rather than using our ears to hear songs that celebrate sense gratification, we can use them to hear the transcendental sound of the Hare Krsna mantra, which has the power to free the soul from the material world. In the case of the tongue, we can use it to taste transcendental food, vegetarian dishes prepared and offered in sacrifice to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the Bhagavad-gita (3.13), Krsna says, "The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is first offered for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin." If we eat food that has been offered to Krsna, we can obtain liberation from material existence. Food not offered to Krsna, even vegetarian food, remains material, and eating it keeps one in the cycle of repeated birth, disease, old age, and death.
By Krsna's inconceivable power, food offered to Him becomes transformed from matter to spirit. Such food is called prasadam, the Lord's mercy, and is considered nondifferent from Krsna.
A great Krsna conscious spiritual master, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, wrote a prayer explaining the role of prasadam in spiritual life: "O Lord, this material body is a place of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths leading to death. Somehow we have fallen into this ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable; it is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. But You, dear Krsna, are so very kind to us and have given us such nice prasadam just to conquer the tongue."
The taste of prasadam is wholly divine—not just a tingle on the taste buds but a genuine spiritual experience that touches the soul. Lord Caitanya, an incarnation of Krsna who appeared five hundred years ago in India to propagate the chanting of the holy names of God, once said about prasadam, "Everyone has tasted these material substances before. However, in these ingredients there are extraordinary tastes and uncommon fragrances. Just taste them and see the difference in the experience. Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind and makes one forget any other sweetness besides its own. Therefore, it is to be understood that the spiritual nectar of Lord Krsna's lips has touched these ordinary ingredients and transferred to them all their spiritual qualities."
By using this month's recipes for raitas and chutneys in preparing prasadam, you are guaranteed an exciting taste of Krsna conscious life.
(Recipes from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking, by Adi-raja dasa)
Fresh Coriander Chutney
Preparation time: 15 min
6 ounces fresh coriander leaves (weight without stems)
1. Thoroughly wash the coriander leaves and chop them fine. In an electric blender, mix the leaves, coconut, ginger, chilies, and lemon juice until they form a smooth paste.
2. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar,salt, and cumin with the paste from the blender. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to offer to Krsna.
Date and Tamarind Chutney
(Khajur Imli Ki Chatni)
Date and tamarind chutney
Preparation and cooking time: 35 min
3 ounces tamarind
1. Break the lump of tamarind into small pieces and boil them in the water for 10 minutes. Then pour the tamarind and water through a strainer. With a wooden spoon, push as much of the pulp as possible through the strainer into the water, scraping the bottom of the strainer every few seconds. Continue until all the pulp has been extracted from the seeds and fiber.
2. To this juice, add all the other ingredients. Cook, uncovered, over a medium flame until most of the liquid evaporates and the chutney is the consistency of marmalade. Offer to Krsna alone or with savories.
Green Mango Chutney
Preparation time: 15 minutes
1 large green mango
Peel the mango, cut the fruit off in strips, and scrape the remaining fruit off the seed. Chop the fruit and mix it with all the other ingredients. Now grind the mixture in an electric blender (or with a mortar and pestle) to form a thick pulp. Offer to Krsna.
Spinach and Yogurt Salad
(Palak Ka Raita)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
1 pound fresh spinach
1. Remove the stalks from the spinach and wash the leaves in several changes of water. Then plunge the leaves in boiling water for a few seconds to wilt them. Drain, press out the excess water, and chop the leaves coarse.
2. Put the yogurt in a large bowl with the spinach and other ingredients. Mix with a fork. Offer to Krsna.
Cucumber and Yogurt Salad
Preparation time: 15 minutes
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
Dry-roast the cumin seeds and grind them into a powder. Wash the cucumbers and grate them through the large holes of a metal grater. Squeeze out the excess liquid, combine the grated cucumber with all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl, and toss. Offer to Krsna.
Chick-Pea-Flour Pearls in Seasoned Yogurt
Preparation time: 30 minutes
4 ounces chick-pea flour
1. Sift the chick-pea flour into a large mixing bowl and add ½ teaspoon of salt. Slowly pour in the cold water, stirring constantly, until you have a thick, smooth batter. Set aside. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt in the warm water and set aside. Put the yogurt in a bowl with the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, the ground cumin (reserve a little for garnishing later), and the cayenne pepper. Mix well and refrigerate.
2. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil over a medium flame. The ghee is hot enough when a drop of batter put into it immediately rises to the surface and sizzles. Over the ghee hold a colander with 1/8-inch holes. With the help of a spatula push several spoonfuls of batter through the holes. Cover the surface of the ghee with droplets. The bundis, or pearls, should cook slowly for about 5 minutes, or until golden yellow. Don't let them turn brown. Drop them into the salted water to soak. Transform all the batter into bundis and let them soak for 20 minutes.
3. Remove the bundis from the water and squeeze gently between the palms of your hands to remove excess water. Be careful not to break them. Now mix most of the bundis into the yogurt and use the rest as a garnish. Sprinkle with the ground cumin, paprika, and chopped coriander leaves. Chill and offer to Krsna.
The Vedic science of rasas (relationships)
by Mathuresa Dasa
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
One, two, three, four, five.
Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning had something else in mind when she penned her beatific "How do I love thee?" question, but the Vedic literature of ancient India, highly poetic itself, answers that there are primarily five ways that an "I" and a "thee" can love each other: (1) in a mood of reverence, (2) in a mood of service, (3) in a mood of friendship, (4) in a mood of parental, or protective, affection, and (5) in a mood of conjugal affection.
Browning fans might think these five categories constitute a relatively cold analysis of love's ways. Even a cold analyst might take exception. What would Sigmund Freud have to say? Does his Oedipus complex fit into the parental mood or the conjugal mood, or not fit at all? And how about Carl Jung? If these five categories exist, then why in his extensive research in the fields of personality and self-discovery did he never discover them? Erich Fromm does list five types of love in his book The Art of Loving, but they differ from the Vedic types.
Nevertheless, the five loving moods, while not listed in the writings of modern poets and psychoanalysis, are easy to recognize in our own everyday lives. The Sanskrit term for these moods is rasa, a word that also carries the connotations of "relationship" and "taste." We taste loving relationships in these five rasas. For clarification, let us count the ways again, briefly elaborating on each rasa.
1. Reverence. We revere, or stand in awe of, persons we consider greater than ourselves—a politician, a famous artist or athlete, a successful businessman. Knowledge of someone's achievements and social position is an important factor in invoking our respect. Reverence is sometimes called the neutral rasa because it involves only passive admiration, not an active exchange with the revered person. In the strictest sense, therefore, it is not a loving mood, although it may foster love.
2. Loving service. When reverence intensifies, it inspires us to perform service, which is the next rasa. Out of admiration for a political candidate, for example, we may help in his election campaign, or at least vote for him. Our feeling of reverence is still there, but we act on it. Not only in the political field but in other social situations as well, the voluntary rendering of service develops from a foreground of reverence and respect. Service rendered strictly for money, or involuntarily out of fear, is not love.
3. Friendship. When the rasa of service intensifies, it may develop into friendship. Again the example of a politician: through prolonged service in his or her campaign, you may come to know the candidate personally, and the candidate, instead of treating you like a servant, may begin to confide in you as a friend. The rasa of friendship contains the previous two rasas, but since friendship involves equality and familiarity, the rasa of awe and reverence diminishes markedly. Your friend's awe-inspiring credentials are not as important as his individual qualities.
4. Parental affection. Intensify friendship and add to it a feeling of protective superiority toward the object of your affection, and you have the parental rasa. Parenthood ordinarily denotes the relationship between a biological father and mother and their children. But we cannot confine the parental rasa to biological kin. Men and women often show parental affection for others' children or for each other.
5. Conjugal affection. This topmost rasa includes the previous four. In addition to respect, service, friendship, and protective affection, conjugal lovers enjoy erotic exchanges as well as feelings of exclusive intimacy.
So there it is. Are these five rasas not apparent in our daily affairs? Vedic authorities assert that any other categories of love we might perceive are merely subdivisions of these.
The concept of rasa encompasses not just loving relationships but unloving ones as well. When the five primary rasas are disturbed, or when they are absent altogether, seven secondary rasas take over.
Aach! More counting of the ways? Yes, just one last tally. The secondary rasas are: (1) anger, (2) wonder, (3) comedy, (4) chivalry, (5) mercy, (6) dread, and (7) ghastliness. Secondary rasas vary in intensity—from the dread of a visit to the dentist to the horror of losing a child, parent, or other loved one. The story of Romeo and Juliet is one famous example of a secondary rasa, ghastliness, resulting from the disruption of a primary rasa, conjugal love. These twelve rasas, five primary and seven secondary, constitute the sum total of personal relationships in every society. Life is an ocean of rasa.
The Vedic science of rasa provides an interesting and useful analytical framework for the study of interpersonal psychology. We could discuss current high divorce rates, for example, in terms of the negative effect that secondary rasas have on family members when the primary marital and parental relationships are broken. Or we could advocate friendly relationships between nations, since in the absence of friendship dreadful and ghastly wars are likely. But it is also interesting and far more useful to understand that the great self-realized authors of the Vedic literature have given us the science of rasa first and foremost to help us reawaken our eternal loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna.
Krsna is no less a person than we are, which means that He can also relate to others in twelve rasas. In fact, He is the original person, the primeval cause of all causes. The conception of God as an enjoyer of rasa does not originate in the human imagination. No. Krsna is our origin. We reflect His qualities. Although God is great and we are small, we are qualitatively equal to Him. Therefore, just as you can know something of the Atlantic Ocean by tasting one drop of ocean water, you can know something of Krsna by observing yourself.
Observe myself? How? By looking in the mirror?
Not exactly. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna explains that the self, the individual person, is not the physical body but an eternal spirit soul dwelling in the body. The body is temporary clothing covering the eternal soul. Not only in the human body but in every living body in all species of life—the plants, aquatics, insects, birds, beasts, and human beings—there is an individual soul. The proof of the soul's presence is that even the animals exchange rasa, showing affection for mates, children, parents, and so on. So to observe the self means to observe not the body but how a living entity exchanges rasas.
In general we see that rasas are exchanged only with members of the same species. It is sometimes said that the dog is man's best friend, but there are in fact many obstacles to a meaningful exchange of rasa between a human being and a dog, or between a human being and any other species. We naturally restrict "counting of the ways" to our own kind. Man to man. Dog to dog. Salamander to salamander.
On the spiritual platform, however, every person, whatever his temporary bodily covering, is of the same quality, the same species, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna. Exchange of rasa with Krsna is therefore natural for everyone. Most religious traditions teach us to respect God as the all-great, all-powerful, all-knowing Supreme, and to serve Him in the mood of awe and reverence. This is certainly correct, but we overlook His true greatness and power if we ignore that He can also relate to others in the higher rasas of friendship, parenthood, and conjugal love. The Narada-pancaratra clearly states that pure love of God means to completely transfer our affection to the Supreme Person and to completely repose all sense of kinship in Him. The pure devotee takes Krsna as everything—master, friend, child, lover—and relates affectionately to everyone else as fellow servants of Krsna.
Mundane affairs in this temporary physical world appear more interesting to us than religious or spiritual pursuits precisely because mundane affairs hold the promise of varieties of personal exchanges in each of the twelve rasas, whereas religious advancement, we falsely believe, does not. Without at least some preliminary knowledge of the completeness of God's personality, of His ability to exchange rasa, it is difficult, if not impossible, even to revere Him. How can you revere a nonentity? Ignorant of the Vedic science of Krsna consciousness, people gradually take to agnosticism, atheism, and lip-service-ism.
The Vedic literature doesn't recommend that we imagine ourselves to be intimate friends of the Supreme Person. Krsna is certainly able to share friendship and parental and conjugal affection with us, but to comprehend the spiritual nature of loving affairs with Krsna we must first fully understand that we are infinitesimal spirit souls and that Krsna is the Supreme Soul. Until we are acquainted with our non-physical, spiritual identity as members of Krsna's "species," reverently recognizing Krsna's supreme, all-powerful position, we cannot even begin to experience an exchange of rasa with Him. Intimacy with the Lord, if we desire it, is possible only after we qualify ourselves.
It is also a mistake to think that Krsna's loving affairs are exactly like the affairs we experience in the material world. There are similarities, but material loving affairs are temporary and therefore bound to disappoint us, whereas spiritual rasa is eternal, pure, unlimited, and ever-increasingly satisfying. In particular, we should not equate Krsna's conjugal affairs, which are sometimes graphically depicted in books on Eastern religion, with the affairs of ordinary, or even extraordinary, men and women. Again, the two appear similar, but there is a gulf of difference.
The affairs of men and women on this tiny planet do not interest Krsna, the all-powerful creator and maintainer of millions of universes. Even Krsna's confidential devotees, who glorify His pastimes of conjugal love, have no attraction for material love affairs. Lord Caitanya, who inaugurated the modern Krsna consciousness movement five hundred years ago, taught that there is no better worship of Krsna than that displayed by the damsels of Vraja, who worshiped Him in conjugal love. Yet Lord Caitanya was a strict renunciant and, although not disrespectful toward women, avoided even distant association with them. Conjugal love of Krsna is therefore not the conjugal love we know of in the material world. The material is a perverted reflection of the spiritual.
Accompanied by His confidential devotees, Krsna occasionally visits the material world, appearing in human society to display His transcendental pastimes and demonstrate to the embodied souls, who are absorbed in temporary loves, that He is Rasaraja, the king of loving affairs. He thus invites us to reawaken our eternal spiritual rasa with Him. Pure devotees of Krsna have recorded His earthly pastimes in epic works such as the Mahabharata (of which the Gita is one chapter), the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and the Ramayana. Through these great literatures one can relish the Lord's pastimes with His devotees, learn the art and science of devotion, and gradually rise to the pure devotional platform.
Unfortunately, when Krsna mercifully appears, many foolish people mistake Him for an ordinary human being. They discount His superhuman pastimes or take them for myths and ignore the Vedic teachings, which establish beyond doubt His supreme dominion over all that be. We should not be misled by such confused persons, who cannot see beyond counting the paltry ways of love in this material world; instead we should take advantage of Krsna's mercy and help the ones we truly love to do the same.
Now the people in this politically tense
by Suhotra Swami
In its mission to spread pure Vaisnava dharma, service to God, around the globe, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is faced with the challenge of establishing unity in diversity: One absolute spiritual principle must be adapted to the various social and cultural conditions of this relative world.
The one absolute spiritual principle is the transcendental teaching of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself in a golden form, who incarnated five hundred years ago in West Bengal, India. Lord Caitanya personally descended to teach Krsna consciousness in its most essential and accessible form: hari-nama sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names of God.
Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement attracted literally millions of followers from all corners of the Indian subcontinent. They were caught up in the waves of ecstatic bliss generated by this simple process of mantra yoga, which enables one to transcend the limitations of the fragile human condition and link one's consciousness with the Supreme, ending the cycle of repeated birth and death.
But Lord Caitanya's plan for delivering souls from the bondage of the bodily conception was not limited to the predominantly Hindu culture of South Asia. In the Caitanya-bhagavata, a sixteenth-century classic on Lord Caitanya's life and teachings, the Lord clearly prophesies that the Chanting of His holy name will be heard in every town and village of the entire world. Fulfilling that prophecy was the main goal of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada when he founded the Krsna consciousness Society in New York in 1966.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged the Western disciples to use their native entrepreneurial spirit to transport the sankirtana mission across the cultural divide separating the Occident from the Orient. That's why sankirtana has taken so many forms in the modern world—from the distribution of Bhagavad-gita in international airports to interisland cruises by ISKCON preachers in Hawaii, from underground study cells of Srila Prabhupada's teachings in the Soviet Union to construction of a "spiritual Disneyland" in West Virginia.
In West Germany, devotees have evolved a preaching strategy adapted from the nama-hatta program established by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in India during the last century. The aim of nama-hatta ("the marketplace of the holy name") is to add Krsna consciousness to the lives of ordinary people from all walks of life, without demanding that they undergo a radical break from society. In other words, a nama-hatti transforms his home into a temple, practices Krsna consciousness with his family, and attempts to interest others in Krsna consciousness through whatever social and occupational channels he has access to.
The German nama-hatta encompasses centers in Hamburg, Flensburg, Regensburg, and Berlin. These centers, which supplement the outreach activities of Germany's four official ISKCON centers, are periodically visited by ISKCON preachers, who encourage the nama-hattis in their own practice of Krsna consciousness and assist them in expanding the sankirtana mission in their local area.
One such party of traveling preachers is headed by Avinasacandra dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada's who joined ISKCON when it was first established in Germany in the late sixties. Avinasacandra and eight other devotees converted a bus into a traveling temple, complete with Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai Deities, and christened it The Spiritual Skyliner.
Among the most exciting tours are the visits to Berlin, which entail a ninety-mile journey from the eastern border of West Germany through the communist German Democratic Republic. Berlin, known by the European youth subculture as "Wall City," is a burgeoning neo-Bohemia that some social commentators have compared to San Francisco in its hippie heyday. At any rate, the large concentration of young people makes Berlin a fruitful ground for spreading Krsna consciousness.
From 1871 to 1945, during its Imperial, Weimar, and Nazi periods, Berlin was the capital of the German Reich. Today the city is truly an international metropolis where the principal political currents of modern Western society converge. Since the end of the Second World War, Berlin has been administered by the Allied occupational authorities (the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France). Their presence has exerted no mean influence upon the local German kultur. The result has made the city a trendy tourist attraction for everyone.
Berlin's best-known tourist magnet, of course, is the infamous Berlin Wall, built by the Communists in 1961 to prevent the 1,000,000 Berliners living in the Russian zone from entering capitalistic West Berlin (population: 2,000,000). Zigzagging along its 100-mile path, the wall cuts through parks, squares, cemeteries, waterways, and 62 city streets. It is guarded around the clock by 14,000 soldiers manning 252 watchtowers, 136 bunkers, and 7 crossing points. Since its construction, more than 70 East Germans have been killed trying to escape to the West.
The nama-hatta center is within sight of the Berlin Wall, just two blocks from Checkpoint Charlie, where, on October 25, 1961, a tank-to-tank showdown between Russian and American troops came within a hairsbreadth of starting World War III. The center is permanently staffed by two enthusiastic aspiring devotees, Udo and Dirk, and serves a congregation of some thirty others. Every Sunday the nama-hattis hold a feast that attracts as many as a hundred guests. And when the devotees from West Germany visit, everyone takes to the streets for hari-nama sankirtana.
Avinasacandra describes his efforts to bring the holy name to Wall City: "West Berlin is at once a Weltstadt [world city] and an isolated island. Because of its insularity, it is not hard to make an impact here. We simply park the bus at a busy location—for instance, in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, in the center of town—and go out on processional kirtana. If you do this every day for a week or two, the whole city will be talking about it for a month afterwards. Sometimes a radio reporter will come to the bus for an interview. We have a video player running constantly in the bus window, showing Krsna conscious films, and we distribute prasadam sweets and magazines to the people gathered outside. And, of course, the devotees hand out invitations to the Sunday feast held at the center.
"Berlin is very analogous to the material world. It's like a prison—a very comfortable prison, no doubt, featuring a grand array of sense pleasures—but on all sides it is bordered by gloom. People here never shake off the nagging fear that they are trapped and that at any moment Russians may come bursting through the wall with their tanks to break up the party.
"Similarly, everybody everywhere is now trapped within the four walls of birth, death, disease, and old age. We may try to make the best out of it by doing the things West Berliners have become world famous for—eating opulently, drinking, taking drugs, gambling, engaging in illicit sex of all kinds, living for the moment in grand style—but that's just illusory escapism. If one really wants to escape he's got to get beyond those walls. And that's why we chant Hare Krsna. It elevates the consciousness to the transcendental realm of Krsna, which is eternally full of knowledge and bliss."
Berlin, which for the last one hundred years has been the site of many a world-shaking event, is now a world stage for nama-sankirtana. The much-needed balm of the holy name of Krsna is the only medicine that can heal the ills of a civilization suffering from a dangerous excess of materialism.
Escaping the Dream
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a guest—Dr. Christian Hauser, a psychiatrist—took place in Stockholm on September 10, 1973.
Dr. Hauser: You know, I met your student James before he was your student. And I must say he was a very aimless person—a person who hadn't found anything very specific in life. He floated about very much. But when I met him yesterday, he was very happy; he felt happy about himself and his new life as a devotee, and that made me very happy. I liked James very much.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, Krsna consciousness is the original status of the living entity. For instance, a young child is always conscious that "I am the son of such-and-such person." This consciousness is natural.
A person may go mad. But when he's cured, he immediately understands, "I belong to such-and-such family, and I am such-and-such gentleman's son."
Similarly, once in contact with this material nature, the spiritual spark, the living entity—he's in madness. Even though we are all part and parcel of Krsna and our original consciousness of Krsna cannot be broken, somehow here in this world we have forgotten our relationship with Krsna. This is madness.
You are a psychiatrist. You know very well—every man in this material world is more or less a madman.
Dr. Hauser: Or he has the germ within himself.
Srila Prabhupada: There is a Bengali poem that says, pisace paile jana mote channa haya/ mayara grasta jivera sei dasa upajaya: "Anyone who is living within this material energy—he is as if haunted by a ghost." Do you have any experience of a man haunted by a ghost, or possessed?
Dr. Hauser: Oh, yes. That's very often a symptom of a psychosis. They feel that they are persecuted by foreign powers.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Foreign powers. That is the idea. Our material conception of life—it is as if we are haunted by a foreign power. It is madness. "I am Christian." "I am Hindu." "I am Muslim." "I am English." "I am German." These conceptions are all haunted. Mad. Because the soul is pure. Asango 'yam purusah: the pure spirit soul has no connection with any designations of the body.
For instance, in a dream we see so many things that have nothing to do with us. This is our nighttime dream, and we recognize it when we wake up.
Unfortunately, when we wake up, generally we go back into our daytime dream. "I am this." "I am that." "I am white." "I am black." "I am American." And so forth.
At night, when we dream, we are in a different situation and we forget everything from the daytime. And again, in the daytime we forget everything from the nighttime. But actually we are entering another dream.
When we leave our nighttime dream, we forget all about it, and we see it for what it was—a temporary situation, a dream. But our daytime situation is also temporary; it is also a dream. We have got to know the permanent reality: I am the permanent spiritual observer within this temporary material situation, nighttime and daytime.
The difficulty is, most of us see these two dreams and recognize only one as a dream; we take the daytime dream as the permanent reality. When someone takes a dream state as reality, you treat him, do you not?
Dr. Hauser: Hmm. Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: So for practical purposes, everyone who is in contact with this temporary material energy is mad. And we are trying to take him out of this mad, dreaming condition. That is the sum and substance of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Dr. Hauser: But does he stop dreaming? I mean, substantially, does he stop . . . does one stop dreaming?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, in the sense we are using the word: the soul no longer identifies with what is not his eternal self or with what is not his eternal duty. He knows, "I am separate from this dreaming condition." So when one knows himself to be simply the observer and not actually a part of the dream, then he's cured.
Dr. Hauser: But the dreaming of the night also has another function.
Srila Prabhupada: No, that is not the idea. Dreaming at night and dreaming during the day are the same thing. Superficial, illusory. Simply their durations are different—at night you dream for a number of minutes, and during the day you dream for a number of hours.
But in the daytime if you think that you are English or you are Swedish, or that you are Hindu or Muslim, that is also a dream. You are none of these, any more than you are part of your nighttime dream. Because of madness, sometimes we take it, "This daytime dream is a fact," or "That daytime dream is a fact." But none of them are facts. Under their sway, we may accept them as facts, but none of them are facts.
So, once again, sanity means sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam: I have to become completely free from all dreamlike designations. For instance, during a nighttime dream I may think, "I have now become a king," or "I am the proprietor of a factory." But none of these are reality. They are only dreams. Similarly, in the daytime I may think, "I am Russian," "I am African," "I am this," or "I am that." But that, too, is all a dream.
In reality, I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, and my duty, my nature, is to serve Him. It is all very simple. So sanity requires that I become free from this dreaming condition, liberated from all kinds of false designations.
Dr. Hauser: But some of these false . . . false designations also are the necessary machinery of our society.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That society is also false.
(To be continued.)
A look at the worldwide activities of the
ISKCON Temple Opens in South Africa, 100,000 Attend
Natal, South Africa—A recent three-day festival here marking the grand opening of ISKCON's Sri Sri Radha-Radhanatha temple drew 100,000 visitors, including leaders of the Afrikaans, English, black, and Asian communities. Festivities included a Vedic fire ceremony, the installation of beautiful Deities of Radha and Krsna, a Vedic wedding, feasts of sumptuous prasadam (food offered to Krsna), and a spectacular fireworks display.
Among the guest speakers at the colorful opening was Mangosuthu Buthelezi, chief minister of the Zulu tribal homeland and president of Inkatha, the largest black political group in South Africa. Buthelezi, though an opponent of apartheid, advocates peaceful negotiations between the country's warring factions.
The ISKCON temple is a "triumph over terrible adversity," Buthelezi said. "The temple's magnificence and spirituality could not be here if racial hatred had already dehumanized us. Sharing across political and racial barriers was made possible by the great religions of the world. There would be no great cultures if there were no great religions."
Presiding over the festival were Srila Bhagavan Gosvami and Srila Bhaktitirtha Swami, two of ISKCON's present spiritual masters, who oversee ISKCON's affairs in South and West Africa.
The temple is over 100 feet high and is surrounded by a moat and a lovely park of gardens, fountains, lawns, walkways, and exotic imported plants. The interior decorations include 557 chandeliers, 45 murals, 6 tons of Portuguese marble, 1,264 square feet of mirrors, and 16,114 stainless steel tiles. The temple also contains a 700-seat auditorium.
Rajarama dasa, a devotee-architect, designed the temple according to geometrical formulas found in a classical Sanskrit text on architecture. The devotees started their own construction company and did most of the construction work.
"Krsna consciousness brings people together in a way that no other church or organization could," Srila Bhaktitirtha said in his opening address. "The devotees in South Africa have vividly demonstrated that all people can live together peacefully through spiritual understanding."
That statement was confirmed by J. N. Reddy, a leading member of the Indian parliament. "This message is one the devotees are showing by their example. It applies not only to South Africa but to the whole world," Reddy said.
Stan Lange, the mayor of Durban, and Amichand Rajbansi, chief minister of the House of Delegates, were also honored guests. Mr. Rajbansi predicted that the temple would soon become a major tourist attraction in South Africa.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
The Comfortable Hole
by Rupanuga dasa
For thirteen years at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California, a developmental psychologist has been teaching sign language to Koko, a female gorilla. Although Koko shows remarkably human emotions and intelligence, her psychologist says she's an average gorilla at best.
Koko's psychologist first tried teaching her the same hand signs used by the deaf, but in time Koko began inventing her own sign language. For example, when she was shown a wedding ring, she responded by combining the sign for "finger" with the sign for "bracelet." Today her working vocabulary is about five hundred words. She initiates about half of her conversations, asks questions, and will even deny things. She also talks to other animals.
The most interesting thing about Koko, however, is her communication of certain abstract concepts, like old age and death. She cried when her pet kitten (which she named All Ball) died. Previously, her keepers phrased questions to her about death: "Why do gorillas die?" they asked, She sighed in return, "Trouble, old." When asked, "Where do gorillas go when they die?" She answered, "Comfortable hole," blowing a kiss goodbye. Her psychologist was puzzled where she got such a concept, but found a confirmed observation of a group of gorillas who came upon a dead crow, dug a hole, placed the corpse within, and covered it with dirt.
Perhaps this is the most important discovery about Koko: a gorilla can know as much about death as many people do. A person is buried, and that's about it—comfortably "resting in peace." It's amazing that a civilization as materially advanced as ours officially teaches no more about death than what an average gorilla knows!
The Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad states, yo va etad aksaram gargy aviditvasmal lokat praiti sa krpanah: "He is a miserly man who does not solve the problems of life as a human being and who thus quits his body like the animals, without understanding the science of self-realization." Krpana means "a miserly person," one who hoards valuable assets. In other words, the real value of human life escapes the person who neglects self-realization.
Who am I? What is the purpose of life? Why do I have to die? Where am I going? These questions signal the start of self-realization. Too often they're postponed till the last bewildering moment of death.
Such procrastination is due to attachment. To be attached to the body is natural, because we are living in it. But without proper spiritual education, we tend to equate the body with ourselves. We assume a bodily identity, an identity we constantly reinforce by innumerable forms of sense gratification. As we grow older, our identity expands with our attachments—from our bodies to our relatives, friends, community, race, nation, and humanity.
Affection for these things is natural, but in the life of one devoid of self-realization, that affection becomes the cause of miserly existence. Thousands of years ago, on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Arjuna faced the perplexity of material identity and affection by consulting Lord Krsna. Thus, by Krsna's transcendental advice, Arjuna was able to overcome his attachments.
We should also take advantage of Lord Krsna's teachings in the Bhagavad-gita. After all, our attachments, be they spiritual or material, are based upon our education.
The word education comes from the Latin educare, which means "to bring" or "to call" out (what is already there). Koko's education brought out her realization—which was pretty good for a gorilla—that life ends with the body. But should an intelligent human being be satisfied with a comfortable hole in the ground at the end of life? The opposite of the krpana (miser) mentioned above is the brahmana, or one who by developed intelligence is able to use the human body for successfully solving the problems of life. That is the special prerogative of humans over gorillas.
A Thin Layer Of Fear
by Dvarakadhisa-devi dasi
"It's really prolonged happiness I'm suspicious of," relates Dustin Hoffman. "Momentary happiness doesn't scare me, but as soon as things are really good, I always have the feeling the rug is about to be pulled out from under me, and I put up a guard. On a beautiful day in California, there's always a thin layer of smog. With me, there's always a thin layer of fear."
For those languishing on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, a kind of constant fearfulness seems natural. After all, when your assets are few, it takes a very small blow to demolish everything you have. For such people, fear is never a distant threat, as they struggle to pay the bills, feed the kids, and hold the marriage together. The hope is that someday they will achieve a margin of security to cushion them from the threat of disaster. In that peaceful and happy state, they believe, the constant gnaw of anxiety will be silenced by the security of material prosperity.
It is disheartening, then, to hear such sobering testimonies from the top. Nevertheless, a number of tabloids appear to be dedicated to exposing the pain behind the painted smiles—broken homes, enslaving drug habits, suicides. Those who are living the American dream most fully are discovering the very fragile and elusive nature of that dream.
Mr. Hoffman continues, "It's the old too-good-to-be-true business that never leaves me. A big wave of happiness surges over me, like a shaft of light from heaven, and I hear a voice behind it saying, 'Are you sure there isn't an earthquake coming?'"
Material acquisitions do not protect us from anxiety. The paradox is, the more you acquire, the more you stand to lose. With each new embellishment a fresh attachment thrusts forward in our hearts, threatening to slice us with pain if we lose the treasured object. We wonder how we will live without the house in the country, the support of our spouse, or the glory of our careers. These things are heady fuel for fear, as the unwitting possessor grows more and more miserable in their midst.
Fear and worry are actually an intelligent response to our increasing load of material attachments. Only a fool proceeds merrily along, oblivious to his own vulnerability. The unhappy truth is that nothing in the material world lasts forever; we will lose all those things so dear to our hearts. An introspective person observes this and becomes alarmed at the depth of his own materialistic entanglement.
The material fever can be extinguished through spiritual enlightenment. To hear of the rich variegations of spiritual happiness and to become eager for such a life automatically subdues materialistic longings. As spiritual entities we crave tranquillity and permanence, and these are possible only when the mind is firmly transcendental to material distractions. The spirit soul never dies, so spiritual pleasure isn't interrupted by the death of the body.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains,
Birth and death apply to one's embodiment in the material world. Fear is due to worrying about the future. A person in Krsna consciousness has no fear because by his activities he is sure to go back to the spiritual sky, back home, back to Godhead. Therefore his future is very bright. Others, however, do not know what their future holds; they have no knowledge of what the next life holds. So they are therefore in constant anxiety. If we want to get free from anxiety, then the best course is to understand Krsna and be always situated in Krsna consciousness. In that way we will be free from all fear. [Bg. 10.5, purport]
Awareness of an underlying tearfulness is symptomatic of a person intelligent enough to perceive his own diseased condition. This is a fortunate position for spiritual advancement, which is the real wealth of life. Regardless of social status, anyone can achieve the highest success in life. We simply have to let go and reach for it.
The Final Judgment
by Subhadra-devi dasi
In the spring of 1975 an attractive young woman joined some of her friends at a bar to share a few drinks. It was to become a fateful occasion for the entire world. Earlier that evening she had taken several tranquilizers, and as the alcohol mixed with the chemicals in her body, the combination proved deadly. On that evening, April 14, 1975, twenty-one-year-old Karen Ann Quinlan suddenly fell unconscious.
She was rushed to the hospital, where just before midnight she lapsed into a coma. For the next three months she lingered on in a bare semblance of existence while her anguished parents watched. Recovery appeared hopeless. The Quinlans requested that Karen be removed from the respirator machine, which seemed to maintain the life in her wasting body. They felt that she deserved "to die with dignity." The doctors and administrators at the hospital, however, disagreed. "We don't kill people here," they responded.
In what was to become one of the most complicated legal battles of the decade, the Quinlans argued that to maintain Karen's body "after the dignity, beauty, promise, and meaning of earthly life have vanished" was cruel and unusual punishment. The doctors countered that no court could determine that Karen would, without a doubt, never recover. While the world focused on the emotion-charged debate, Karen Ann lay quietly on her bed, oblivious to the furor, her body curling into the grotesque fetal position that characterizes "the chronic vegetative state."
Finally, the Quinlans won their case on appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On May 22, 1976, the respirator was disconnected. No one could predict if Karen Quinlan would survive the night or if she would linger on for several more months. She continued to live, never regaining consciousness, for more than nine years.
When the tiny spirit soul enters the womb of its mother-to-be at the time of conception, it takes up residence. How long that residence will last—that particular individual's life span—is predetermined by the laws of karma. These laws dictate the conditions of a specific individual's birth, the course of his life, and the manner of his death. By the time of birth, all that is left for the individual is the role and the script; it is too late to change the final scene. There are numerous examples of inexplicably brief lives, of freak deaths that occur with no apparent cause. And there are also miraculous recoveries, survivals despite insurmountable odds. How many doctors have witnessed one patient slip away despite impeccable medical attention while another survives despite the worst of circumstances?
Sometimes we credit a person with a great "will to live." But the tenacious die-hard does die, nevertheless. It's not on the merit of personal determination that one is able to maintain his life; ultimately you must be blessed with divine sanction.
This is painfully evident in the story of Karen Ann Quinlan. Certainly in many respects her life ended on April 14, 1975, yet she "lived" for ten more years. The mysterious factor that defies the limits of our logical reasoning is the hand of Krsna. Lord Krsna Himself proclaims, "I am all-devouring death." In this connection. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada elaborates, "As soon as a man is born, he dies at every moment. Thus death is devouring every living entity at every moment, but the last stroke is called death itself. That death is Krsna" (Bg. 10.34, purport).
The irony of Karen Ann Quinlan's agonizing demise overshadows her brief yet vivacious life. How she lived was forgotten as the world debated how she would die. But in the end the decision wasn't her parents' or the doctors' or judges', but the Supreme Lord's, reminding us once again who is in charge and who makes the final judgment.
Journey to Navadvipa
To the casual visitor, this holy land is much like the rest of rural India.
by Visakha-devi dasi
First a long and tedious flight. Then retrieving baggage and waiting in long lines to clear Indian immigration and customs. Then four hours on a bus bumping through Calcutta's teeming streets and on through dozens of timeless, dusty villages. Finally the pilgrims sight the temple domes that stand high above the treetops in the holy land of Navadvipa. They feel relieved and alert with transcendental expectation. Navadvipa's "skyline," now a familiar sight to thousands of devotees throughout the world, is like a homecoming beacon that announces the journey's end to weary travelers.
To the uninformed, this spacious flat farming area near the junction of the Ganges and Jalangi rivers may seem like the rest of rural India. The heavy bulls turning clods of earth with hefty plows, the thatch-roofed mud houses, the ancient-looking riverboats, and the slight, wide-eyed people make the customary sights and conveniences of the West no more significant or relevant than a faint memory.
Navadvipa, literally ''Nine Islands," is a sacred tract of land in West Bengal. The nine islands, sculpted by the fingers of the Ganges as she reaches down to the Bay of Bengal, are dotted with numerous towns and villages and checkered with plots of farmland—wheat, rice, beans, sugar cane—and occasional groves of bananas, coconuts, or papayas.
But Navadvipa is much more than a quaint, picturesque area where time has all but stopped. It is the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. * [*The present-day town of Navadvipa is a small city included within the nine islands, but Navadvipa the town is not the same as Navadvipa the nine islands. Lord Caitanya took birth on the island of Rudradvipa, near the present-day town of Mayapur.] It is transcendental.
Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself in the role of His own devotee. He appeared in India five hundred years ago, and His birth was predicted in revealed scriptures like the Srimad-Bhagavatam and Mahabharata. But unlike other incarnations, He presented Himself not as God but as a devotee of God. He did this for two reasons:
He wanted to fully relish the sweetness and depth of a devotee's love, and He wanted to show people how to best evoke their dormant love of God. Because Lord Caitanya benevolently distributed that transcendent love to everyone, He is known as the most munificent incarnation. His method was sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the names of God. This, He taught, is the most expedient way to become self-realized in this age.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual guide of the Hare Krsna movement, referred to Lord Caitanya innumerable times in his writings and lectures, and he trained his international family of disciples to follow in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya by chanting Hare Krsna, dancing, and enjoying krsna-prasadam (food offered to Krsna). In the introduction to his book Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Prabhupada wrote,
Lord Caitanya is the ideal teacher of life's prime necessities. He is the complete reservoir of all mercies and good fortune, and He is worshipable by everyone in this age of disagreement. Everyone can join in His sankirtana movement. No previous qualification is necessary. Just by following His teachings, anyone can become a perfect human being.... I sincerely hope that by understanding the teachings of Lord Caitanya, human society will experience a new light of spiritual life that will open the field of activity for the pure soul.
The bus rumbles along the narrow winding road, looking incongruous among the bullock carts, rickshas, cows, goats, and pedestrians. The pilgrims peer out the windows. Five centuries ago. Lord Caitanya used to tread this very land daily, and the white-steepled temple that the bus passes marks the place where, on February 18, 1486, the Lord appeared.
The funds to purchase the land and build this temple were raised by the great forefather of the Hare Krsna movement, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. A century ago Srila Bhaktivinoda researched extensively to discover the exact site of Lord Caitanya's birth. After his findings were confirmed by his spiritual master, he personally arranged for the construction of the sacred shrine that still stands today.
Srila Bhaktivinoda also published a book revealing the importance of Navadvipa, and before he passed on, he instructed his son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, to continue his work. It's because of the service of these great devotees and of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's disciple Srila Prabhupada that Navadvipa's significance was established.
At Srila Prabhupada's temple, Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir, just one mile from Lord Caitanya's birthplace, the bus finally stops. Each year since 1972 Srila Prabhupada's disciples from all over the world have joined together in Navadvipa to celebrate the appearance day of Lord Caitanya. And this year will be the largest and grandest celebration—the quincentennial.
What Srila Prabhupada and his predecessors and followers have done in broadcasting the glories of Navadvipa is similar to what Lord Caitanya and His followers did five hundred years ago to broadcast the glories of Vrndavana.
Vrndavana is a beautiful area not far from Delhi (but seven hundred miles from Navadvipa where Lord Krsna passed His childhood and youth during His appearance fifty centuries ago. Forty-five centuries later, when Lord Caitanya visited Vrndavana, it was a miniscule, relatively unheard-of and undeveloped farming village. Lord Caitanya requested six of His leading disciples to live there, establish temples, excavate the holy places of Krsna's pastimes, and write books about Krsna consciousness. As a result, Vrndavana today is famous among all Hindus and devotees. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims regularly visit the thousands of temples and holy places of Vrndavana.
In Navadvipa, Srila Bhaktivinoda, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, and Srila Prabhupada have also founded temples, excavated the holy places of Lord Caitanya's pastimes, and written books on Krsna consciousness. In one sense Vrndavana and Navadvipa are one, as much as Lord Krsna and Lord Caitanya are one, being the same Supreme Person in different features. But in another sense, although one, Vrndavana and Navadvipa are simultaneously different, as are Lord Krsna and Lord Caitanya.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes the difference in his book Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya:
Navadvipa is the crest jewel of all holy places, being the most merciful of all. In other places of pilgrimage (like Vrndavana), an offender is severely punished, but in Navadvipa the offender is not only forgiven, he is purified and receives the treasure of love of God.
To illustrate this point, Srila Bhaktivinoda cites the example of the brothers Jagai and Madhai, who were born in a good family but became drunkards and debauchees. When Madhai injured a devotee who had requested him to chant the holy names of God, Lord Caitanya was immediately ready to kill him. But when the Lord saw that Jagai and Madhai were repentant and willing to reform. He forgave them. Later they became renowned for their devotion. Srila Bhaktivinoda continues,
One who lives in Navadvipa is very fortunate, for he attains ecstatic love for Krsna birth after birth. One who happens to go there becomes freed from all offenses. What one attains by traveling to all other holy places is attained just by remembering Navadvipa, and what yogis attain after ten years is attained in Navadvipa in three nights. The impersonal liberation one gets after arduous endeavor at other holy places you can get simply by bathing in the Ganges at Navadvipa. In fact, all material enjoyments and liberation remain as obedient servants to the pure devotees in Navadvipa.
However, reading this and experiencing Navadvipa may make one doubtful. Sometimes a pilgrim hears mundane cinema songs drift over the Ganges while he's taking his sacred bath. Locals with not-so-innocent stares may inquire about his camera, watch, and tape recorder. And anyone who goes to the city of Navadvipa, on the western bank of the Ganges, will surely be struck by the lack of cleanliness and organization.
At the end of his book, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains these apparent incongruities:
Since no material thing or person is ever situated in Navadvipa, a film of dull matter has been spread over it to keep it covered from the materialist. The people who have no relationship with Lord Caitanya simply live on top of that covering, blind to the real truth. Though one is thinking, "I am in Navadvipa," maya [illusion] happily keeps Navadvipa far away from that person.
In other words, it takes more than a rattling, grumbling bus to bring a pilgrim to Navadvipa. For Navadvipa cannot be reached simply by buying a ticket and going there. It is a transcendental place where Lord Caitanya eternally resides, just as Krsna eternally resides in Vrndavana. Pure devotees see Lord Caitanya in Navadvipa today, chanting and dancing with His associates. Srila Bhaktivinoda explains this in a song:
When the eastern horizon becomes tinged with the redness of sunrise, Lord Caitanya, taking His devotees with Him, journeys through the towns and villages of Navadvipa.
Navadvipa can be reached by chanting the holy names of God with faith and conviction. In this mood a pilgrim can begin his journey to Navadvipa, and before long he will surely arrive in that holy land.
Instructions to Rupa Gosvami
On the bank of the Ganges at Prayaga,
by Kundali dasa
Continuing a special series of articles commemorating the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance in Mayapur, West Bengal. By His life and teachings, He inaugurated the Hare Krsna movement.
Formerly, in a public debate in India the loser and all his followers became the disciples of the winner. Through this convention, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu won thousands of followers to Krsna consciousness. His erudition. His skill as a debater and logician, and, most of all, His saintly conduct had no match throughout the length and breadth of India. Followers from all of India's prominent schools of thought—including the Buddhists, the followers of Sankaracarya, and followers of Islam—converted to the Krsna consciousness movement of Lord Caitanya.
Yet, surprisingly, until recently Lord Caitanya was less renowned as a leading saint, scholar, and philosopher than certain other well-known thinkers of India—even ones whose philosophy He many times defeated. One major reason for this is that except for His eight-stanza Siksastaka, which outlines the path of Krsna consciousness, He left none of His teachings penned by His own hand. Rather, He instructed some of His devotees to write books elaborating on all He taught them. Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis, two brothers, were especially empowered by the Lord to write transcendental literature. Our modern Krsna consciousness movement is greatly indebted to these devotees for their executing Lord Caitanya's order, thus preserving the topmost revelation of the Absolute Truth.
After His visit to Vrndavana (described in BACK TO GODHEAD 20.12), Lord Caitanya went to Prayaga (known today as Allahabad). There Rupa Gosvami and his younger brother, Anupama, approached the Lord one day with pieces of straw between their teeth (symbolizing their humility) and repeatedly offered obeisances at His lotus feet. Feeling great pleasure at seeing them, the Lord embraced them both.
With clasped hands and great humility, Rupa and Anupama offered prayers to the Lord: "O most munificent incarnation of the Lord! You are Krsna Himself appearing as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.
"We offer our respectful obeisances unto that merciful Supreme Personality of Godhead who has converted all three worlds, which were maddened by ignorance, and saved them from their diseased condition by making them mad with the nectar from the treasure house of love of God. Let us take full shelter of that Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna Caitanya, whose activities are wonderful."
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was greatly pleased by the prayers of the two brothers. Later, for ten consecutive days, at a place called Dasasvamedha-ghata, the Lord instructed Srila Rupa Gosvami about krsna-tattva, the ultimate truth about Lord Krsna; bhakti-tattva, the truth about devotion to Krsna; and rasa-tattva, the truth about the transcendental mellows of loving relationships with Krsna.
The Lord began: "The ocean of the transcendental mellow of devotional service is so big it is impossible to describe it completely. No one can estimate its length and breadth. Just to help you taste it, I shall describe one drop." He then proceeded to describe the nature of the spiritual soul, supporting His statements with references to the Vedic scriptures.
Lord Caitanya next explained that the dimension of the spirit soul is very, very minute: one ten-thousandth the size of the tip of a hair. These infinitesimal living entities are unlimited in number and are of two types: moving and nonmoving. The moving entities are divided into human and nonhuman species, and the human species are further divided into civilized and uncivilized cultures. Those who follow the Vedic principles are counted as civilized. And among these are many who pay only lip service.
Among the serious followers of Vedic culture, the majority are mostly interested in materialistic activities, only a few being progressive enough to inquire into the purpose of human life. Out of many millions of such sincere individuals, one may attain salvation. Out of millions of these liberated souls, a pure devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a very rare find.
All the souls are wandering throughout the universe lifetime after lifetime in different species, in a never-ending quest for peace and happiness. Sometimes they enjoy heavenly pleasures, and sometimes they suffer hellish miseries. If, however, a soul becomes fortunate, he gets the opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master, by whose grace the seed of the bhakti-lata, the creeper of devotional service, is planted within his heart.
Such a fortunate person must carefully tend the seed like a good gardener by watering it regularly with hearing and chanting about the glories of the Supreme Person, Krsna. Gradually the seed sprouts and the creeper of devotional service grows and grows, piercing the walls of the universe and entering the spiritual world. When it reaches the spiritual planet Goloka Vrndavana, the personal abode of Krsna, the creeper of devotion comes to rest at the lotus feet of Krsna, where it produces abundant quantities of prema-phala, the fruits of love of Krsna.
Lord Caitanya warned Srila Rupa Gosvami that the candidate for pure devotional service, while cultivating the creeper of devotion, must be careful not to commit offenses to the Vaisnavas, devotees of the Lord. Such offenses He compares to a mad elephant that uproots the devotional creeper, causing it to dry up and die. The gardener must protect his creeper of devotional service from a mad-elephant offense.
Another danger is that weeds of material desires may grow alongside the devotional creeper. The varieties of weeds of material desires are unlimited, and the gardener must be careful not to nourish them while watering his devotional creeper. The successful, patient gardener ultimately reaps the fruits of love of God. So relishable are those fruits that the four kinds of material perfection—economic development, sense gratification, religiosity, and liberation—seem pale and insignificant by comparison.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu then compared the gradual development of prema, unalloyed love of God, to the different states of sugar. First is the seed of the sugarcane, then the sugarcane plant. Next comes the sweet juice of the sugarcane. When the juice is boiled, it becomes liquid molasses and, later, solid molasses. This then becomes sugar and, finally, rock candy. Similarly, love of God evolves through various stages of development, each more concentrated than the last.
On the platform of pure love, there are still further stages, which develop according to each devotee's particular attachment to Krsna. These stages are five: santa-rati, neutral appreciation of the Lord; dasya-rati, attachment in servitude; sakhya-rati, attachment in friendship; vatsalya-rati, attachment in parental affection; and madhura-rati, attachment in conjugal love.
Lord Caitanya explained to Rupa Gosvami that attachment to Krsna is either in awe and reverence or in pure, spontaneous love. Attachment in awe and reverence is found in all the spiritual planets—except for Goloka Vrndavana, the topmost spiritual planet. In the other spiritual planets, the opulences of the Lord are very prominent, and devotional service in neutrality and servitude predominates. But in Goloka Vrndavana the prominent relationships with Lord Krsna are the fraternal, the parental, and the conjugal—intimate relationships that are actually impeded by feelings of awe and reverence. These devotees experience the Lord's unlimited opulence, but they are not awed by it, because their emphasis is on a natural, spontaneous loving relationship with Krsna.
Each successive stage of love is symptomized by its having all the qualities of the preceeding stages plus an increase in feelings of intimacy with the Lord. Servitude, for example, includes neutrality, and fraternal attachment includes neutrality and servitude. Unlike servitude and neutrality, however, fraternity is generally devoid of formality and veneration. The same is true for parental and conjugal love. Devotees situated in parental loving attachment, in addition to having sentiments of neutrality, servitude, and friendship, also think themselves the Lord's maintainers.
All four relationships mentioned above combine in the relationship of conjugal love. Here attachment for Krsna, service to Him, the realized feelings of fraternity, and the feelings of maintenance all increase in intimacy. The intensified taste of complete devotion to the Lord in conjugal love is so wonderful that Lord Caitanya said it cannot be fully described.
Lord Caitanya thus concluded His instructions to Srila Rupa Gosvami, saying: "I have simply given a general survey of the mellows of devotional service. You can consider how to adjust and expand this. When one thinks of Krsna constantly, love for Him is manifest within the heart. Even though one may be ignorant, one can reach the shore of the ocean of transcendental love by Lord Krsna's mercy."
Later, Lord Caitanya left Prayaga for Benares, where He gave further instructions on the science of Krsna consciousness to Sanatana Gosvami, Rupa's elder brother. Rupa Gosvami later compiled many books on Krsna consciousness, chief of which is the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which Srila Prabhupada has rendered into English as The Nectar of Devotion.
Lord Caitanya's imparting the essence of His teachings to Rupa and Sanatana is a significant lesson in itself, because Rupa and Sanatana had been ostracized from the brahminical community in which they were born. They were outcastes because they had taken employment in the Muslim government of Bengal. Muslims, being meat-eaters, were considered untouchable by the brahminical orthodoxy. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, was very pleased by the surrender and devotion of Rupa and Sanatana, and He showed that a devotee in Krsna consciousness does not consider candidates for spiritual life in terms of material qualifications, but in terms of their sincere desire to transcend the mundane world. Rupa and Sanatana were among Lord Caitanya's most intimate devotees; they have set the standard of Krsna consciousness for all Lord Caitanya's followers. Even today devotees of Lord Caitanya are called rupanugas, or followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami.
Tribute to a Pure Devotee
The devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness were shocked and dismayed when the senior member of the Society, His Divine Grace Srila Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, was brutally and irrationally attacked, struck on the head, and critically injured. Although he has apparently fully recovered by Lord Krsna's grace, for several weeks he lay in an intensive care unit of a Pittsburgh hospital, partially paralyzed, lapsing into coma. The members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, together with friends in the lay community, felt great sorrow over this incident and prayed for Srila Kirtanananda Swami's rapid recovery.
Although attacks and assassination attempts are common in the material world, it may be bewildering to hear of such a thing happening to a saintly person. After all, we know that Lord Krsna gives His devotees special protection. Yet Vedic literatures like the Srimad-Bhagavatam advise against becoming confused or unduly disturbed over incidents such as this attack on Srila Kirtanananda Swami. Sometimes powerful preachers are put into great difficulties while performing their Krsna conscious duty.
Such was the case with Srila Haridasa Thakura, a great saint of fifteenth-century Bengal and a personal associate of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. For refusing to compromise his conviction to distribute pure love of God throughout the land, Haridasa Thakura was arrested by the Muslim ruler and ordered to be beaten in twenty-two marketplaces. Likewise, the exalted transcendentalist Prahlada Maharaja underwent severe torture at the hands of his evil father, Hiranyakasipu; and the five Pandavas, personal associates of Lord Krsna, suffered a long series of painful tribulations. And, of course. Lord Jesus Christ underwent crucifixion for the sake of distributing love of God.
We should not be disturbed on hearing of reverses such as these. Rather, we should understand that these events are part of the plan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who is fixed in God consciousness accepts even enormous reverses as the grace of the Lord, continuing to serve Krsna despite all adverse conditions. Such a devotee knows that at the end of his temporary tribulations in this temporary world, he will return back to Godhead.
We should, however, guard against complacency and against the tendency of taking the saintly person for granted. Familiarity often breeds contempt, and we should take care lest we forget how rare Vaisnavas like Srila Kirtanananda Swami are.
The Vaisnava is the best friend and well-wisher of all living entities. Without discrimination, he freely distributes pure love of God to everyone through the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By developing our innate love for Krsna through the chanting of His holy name, we can qualify ourselves to return to the kingdom of God and there enjoy eternal life with Krsna and His associates. By distributing Krsna's holy name, the Vaisnava thus performs the greatest welfare work in this world. Whereas others may help to temporarily ease the pain and suffering of this world, the Vaisnava's gift of the holy name releases the sincere chanter from all suffering—now and in the future—and we can experience the original, eternal happiness now dormant within. This is the gift Srila Kirtanananda Swami (and the other Vaisnavas in the Krsna consciousness movement) is freely giving to the world.
Srila Bhaktipada is a truly outstanding leader and teacher of Krsna consciousness. He is especially known for developing New Vrindaban, his monumental tribute to the glories of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. New Vrindaban, near Moundsville, West Virginia, is the home of the world famous Palace of Gold, a beautiful chapel and pilgrimage site devoted to the memory of Srila Prabhupada. Constructed from seventeen varieties of imported and domestic marble and ornamented with gold leaf, the Palace has become an international place of pilgrimage for Indian people from around the world, and it is presently the second largest tourist attraction in the state of West Virginia.
Construction is currently underway on New Vrindaban's Temple of Understanding. When completed, this temple for the worship of Lord Krsna and His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani, will rise 216 feet in the air. Its seventy thousand tons of granite will make this temple the largest granite structure in the world. With accompanying gardens, fountains, and parks, New Vrindaban is quickly becoming one of the most prominent and important places of religious pilgrimage in the world. New Vrindaban, the largest and most successful Krsna conscious community in America, is a hallmark of Srila Bhaktipada's pure God-conscious vision.
As Dr. Donald Sills, a Baptist minister and the president of the Coalition for Religious Freedom, affirms, Srila Bhaktipada and the devotees of the New Vrindaban community are building much more than just a temple; they are building "a community that will reach out, not to a handful of neighbors, but will reach out throughout this nation and around the world, and say that people of God can find common ground upon which they can walk and work together. We must put aside theological differences and find that common ground."
The community spirit among the devotees of New Vrindaban is wonderful. Their dedication to this holy place is a direct and spontaneous expression of their love and faith in Srila Bhaktipada and Srila Prabhupada. As one guest to New Vrindaban recently remarked, "The people here are the happiest, busiest people I have ever met." Through their enthusiasm to please Krsna and His pure representative, the devotees of New Vrindaban are perfecting their lives.
Srila Kirtanananda Swami, a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada since the summer of 1966, has disciples of his own around the world—in India, Pakistan, Africa, Canada, and the United States. He is an author of transcendental literature, and his recently published Christ and Krsna has won special favor among scholars. As Klaus Klostermaier, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, has written, "Christ and Krsna . . . is a milestone in interreligious dialogue literature. The concern of the book is not sectarian propaganda but respiritualization of the world, devotion to God and a sane life." Other books by Srila Bhaktipada include The Song of God, a summary study of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and the newly published Eternal Love.—SDG